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What is Yerba mate?

Ever since I've discovered yerba mate my freshman year of college, it has been one of my favorite drinks to treat myself with. The only kind I have tried is the cold brew version by the brand Guayaki which comes in a can. However, this tea drink, common in South America, is typically served hot in a carved-out gourd and drank with a filtered metal straw. The herbal tea is made by steeping the leaves and twigs of a plant called Ilex paraguariensis. It is said to have a somewhat woody, smoky, or bitter flavor. Based on my experience, I would not say that the taste is quite as bitter as it sounds. It just seems to be a fun and unique flavor of tea. As fun as this all sounds, I have heard some worrying comments about yerba mate through the grapevine.

The positives

Besides the obvious, the scrumptious taste, yerba mate is known for having many beneficial qualities. The main benefits I have researched are its anti-inflammatory and stimulant effects. This yummy tea is said to help increase mental focus and energy levels without that jittery feeling that coffee can give you. It has been dubbed to have a "clean buzz" which includes no shakes and no caffeine crash later on. Some of the other upsides of yerba mate include improving sports performance, protecting against infections, lowering risks of heart disease, boosting immune systems, and aiding with fatigue. It is also said to help with depression and headaches. Always a plus!

The negatives

Part of the reason I wanted to do some research on the pros and cons of yerba is because a friend of mine told me that they had heard that it is not healthy for you. As an advid mate lover, I was hoping to see only benefits when diving into the effects of the drink. Although, this was not the case. Researches have possibly linked excessive and prolonged drinking of yerba mate to cancers such as lung, mouth, stomach, bladder, esophageal, and laryngeal. Drinking the tea at extremely hot temperatures can increase these chances. Other side affects include headaches, anxiety, nervousness, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, ear ringing, and an irregular heartbeat. These symptoms are side effects for coffee and many other caffeinated drinks, as well. Therefore, a lot of these downsides are not yerba mate specific and are a part of other drinks we are consuming daily. Even though these cautions may not deter us college students from chugging some caffeine, it may be a good thing to keep an eye on.

In conclusion...

Based on what I've read, yerba mate is probably not gonna be the thing to take you out. Most of the cautions, in terms of cancer, were intended for those who drink it routinely in South America. When enjoyed in moderation, there seems to be nothing to be too concerned about. If you are drinking it very hot, pregnant or breastfeeding, drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, have anxiety disorder, or have IBS, your odds of having side effects may be higher. Otherwise, sip away!! Personally, I am not going to stop myself from having some when I'm feeling fancy. :)

Hello! I’m Ella and I’m a sophomore studying psychology at CNU. I'm a newly recent member of Her Campus but I'm already loving it! I haven't written for my own enjoyment in a long time so this opportunity has been so freeing for me. Always feel free to reach out! My Instagram is @ella.caroline.shields :)
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